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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Stone Angel - Stone Angel (1975 uk, ethereal traditional acid folk psych, 2014 edition)

The Stone Angel story begins in December 1972. Guitarists Ken Saul and Paul Corrick were rehearsing for a spot at the Great Yarmouth Folk Club Christmas party, but all they could come up with was a guitar duet version of 'God rest ye Merry Gentlemen'. They invited singer Jill Child to join them, and worked on a couple of recently composed songs based on local legends, 'Sanctuary Stone' and 'The Skater'. That first performance was so well received that the trio decided to continue, the following two years seeing them perform at clubs, concerts and festivals throughout East Anglia and occasionally further afield, while still doing the resident slot at their local club.

During the summer of 1973 a demo recording of some of their songs was made, on which Midwinter were joined by Dik Cadbury (of 'Decameron' and 'Steve Hackett Band' fame) on bass, and Mick Burroughes on percussion. This was never released at the time, and in fact the master tapes remained in a box in Ken Saul's attic until they finally were issued by Kissing Spell in 1993 as the CD 'The Waters of Sweet Sorrow'.

Midwinter came to an end with Jill's departure to college, their farewell concert taking place back at the Yarmouth Folk Club on September 11th 1974. Some of their songs lived on, however, as a few months later Paul and Ken formed a new band, again including fellow musicians from the Yarmouth club. This new band had something of a rockier, more gothic, edge and a decidedly experimental approach to folk music: Stone Angel was born!

Stone Angel's first public performance, again at the Yarmouth Folk Club, was on December 20th 1974. The line-up consisted of Joan Bartle on vocals, flute, recorders and crumhorn; Mick Burroughes on bass and percussion; Paul Corrick on electric guitars and harpsichord; Dave Lambert on fiddle and mandolin; Ken Saul on vocals, guitars and dulcimer. Building on the reputation of Midwinter, they began to appear at numerous clubs and festivals around the area.

For a variety of reasons a decision was made to produce a self-financed recording, and this took place in February 1975. The band was assisted in this project by Eddy Green, who from time to time had deputised for various personnel in the live performances. Only three hundred and fifty of the projected five hundred albums were ever produced, and unfortunately these suffered from rather poor sound quality. A busy schedule followed, with the album being hawked around the live gigs, until the end of the summer when both Paul and Mick departed for university and art college respectively.

The resulting trio continued, but became entirely acoustic and more traditional in their choice of material, although still including 'The Skater' and 'Black-sailed Traders' in their set. The only recording from this period was a basic tape recording of a live concert in the village church at Filby, Norfolk, where Ken and Joan now lived. This too was to later be released on CD by Kissing Spell under the title 'The Holy Rood of Bromholm'. After spells working in Botswana and Southampton, Dave Lambert emigrated to Australia, where he continues to play as a member of Adelaide-based band 'The Legends'.

1. The Bells Of Dunwich - 6:04
2. The Skater - 3:13
3. Pastime With A Good Company - 1:12
4. Traveller's Tale - 5:41
5. Black Sailed Traders - 5:04
6. Stone Angel - 3:38
7. Galliard Merrie England's Musicke Box - 2:02
8. The Gay Goshawk (Traditional) - 7:08  
9. The Black Dog (Paul Corrick, Ken Saul) - 5:42
10.The Holy Rood Of Bromholm (Ken Saul) - 4:01
All compositions by Stone Angel except where indicated

Stone Angel
*Ken Saul - Vocals, Guitars, Dulcimer, Treble Recorder
*Joan Bartle - Vocals, Flute, Recorder, Crumhorn
*Mick Burroughs - Percussion, Bass, Jews Harp
*Dave Lambert - Violin, Mandolin, Rebec
*Paul Corrick - Electric Guitar, Bass